First Dominion War

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First Dominion War
Date:

2373-2375

Location:

Alpha Quadrant

Result:

Federation Alliance victory;
Federation Alliance occupation of Cardassia;
Withdrawal of Dominion forces to the Gamma Quadrant

Belligerents

Federation Alliance

Federation
Klingon Empire
Romulan Empire
Cardassian Liberation Front

Dominion-Breen Alliance

Dominion
Cardassian Union
Breen Confederacy
Son'a
Notable commanders

Federation:
Benjamin Sisko
William Ross

Klingon Empire:

Martok
Gowron

Romulan Empire:

Kimara Cretak
Velal

Cardassian Liberation Front:

Damar

Dominion:
Female Changeling
Weyoun

Cardassian Union:

Dukat
Damar† (later started rebellion)
Broca

Breen Confederacy:

Gor
Pran

Strength

Unknown number of ships.

At height: 30,000 starships

Casualties and Losses

Unknown, severe

Over 807 million Cardassians, near complete destruction of Jem'Hadar forces in the Alpha Quadrant, unknown number of Breen losses

[ Source ]
The Dominion War was a devastating interstellar conflict fought between the Federation Alliance and the Dominion, beginning in late 2373 and lasting until late 2375. The conflict thrust the entire Alpha Quadrant into one of the most destructive wars in galactic history. By war's end, the Alpha Quadrant saw the loss of a notable power, the Cardassian Union, the military strength of the Klingon Empire was significantly reduced, and the death toll was catastrophic for all those involved.

Prelude

Tensions with the Dominion began as early as the Federation's first official contact with them. A cold war began to develop in 2370 and lasted for three years. Through placing Changeling doppelgangers in important positions with the governments of the major powers of the Alpha and Beta Quadrants, the Dominion was able to drastically reduce the military balance of power by eliminating the Cardassian Obsidian Order and severely damaging the Romulan Tal Shiar during the Battle of the Omarion Nebula. Their infiltration also nearly caused a war between the Federation and the Tzenkethi, and caused the breakdown of peace between the Federation and Klingon Empire and between the Klingons and Cardassians.

The Dominion was able to use the war between the Klingons and Cardassians to gain a foothold in the Alpha Quadrant. In 2373, after facing heavy losses against the Klingons, Gul Dukat negotiated an alliance between the Cardassian Union and the Dominion, with the Cardassians becoming official members. The Dominion used the opportunity to begin fortifying the Cardassian Union with weekly convoys of ships and troops from the Gamma Quadrant, using the Bajoran Wormhole. With his new allies, Dukat and the Cardassians drove the Klingons from Cardassian space, as well as eliminating the Maquis resistance in the Demilitarized Zone. With this new threat, the Federation and Klingons renewed their peace by resigning the Khitomer Accords, and pledged to stand together against the Dominion.

Over the next several months, border skirmishes would break out along the Cardassian border. In addition, the Dominion began signing nonaggression treaties with several regional powers in the Alpha Quadrant, including the Tholian Assembly, the Miradorn, the Bajorans, and the Romulan Star Empire. To prevent any further Dominion reinforcements from reaching Cardassia Prime, the Federation decided to mine the Alpha Quadrant entrance of the Bajoran Wormhole.

Total war begins

As Starfleet had anticipated, a large Dominion fleet was dispatched to Deep Space 9 to capture the station and prevent completion of the minefield. The station mounted a valiant defense, but did not have the resources necessary to fight off the Dominion fleet on its own. All Starfleet personnel were ordered to withdrawal from the station following the activation of the minefield. Because of the nonaggression treaty with the Dominion, Bajor was spared any further direct role in the war, and all Bajoran personnel remained on the station during the Dominion occupation of Deep Space 9. During the battle and Starfleet's withdrawal, a Federation-Klingon task force entered Cardassian space and destroyed the Dominion shipyards at Torros III.

Dominion Success

For the next three months, the allied fleets engaged Dominion forces in a number of devastating battles. However, the Dominon was dominating the battles, forcing the Federation and Klingons to retreat at every turn. The Federation's Seventh Fleet, a force composed of 112 vessels, was dispatched to the Tyra system to stop the Dominion's advance into Federation territory. The battle was a disaster for the Federation, as only fourteen ships were able to limp back to Federation controlled space. In order to keep up the morale on the homefront, the Federation News Service did not report how bad the losses truly were.

While the Dominion was winning every fullscale engagement, the allies were still able to win some minor victories. In a mission led by Captain Benjamin Sisko, a small team used a captured Jem'Hadar ship to destroy the Dominion's primary ketracel-white storage facility in Cardassian space. Gul Dukat responded to the attack on his supply lines by driving deeper into Federation-held space. He had hoped to win a crushing victory over the Federation forces before the Dominion ran out of ketracel-white, provided that the minefield could not be deactivated. In the next month, the front line spread across Federation territory. The Vulcan and Bolian home systems found themselves in danger. Starfleet sent the Fifth and Eleventh Fleets to reinforce the Vulcan border. Another infiltration mission into Dominion controlled space destroyed a Dominion sensor array in the Argolis Cluster, leading to an operation to relieve the pressure on the Bolian front. However, morale was falling so quickly that even the Klingons doubted if the war was winnable.

After months of retreating from the Dominion forces, Captain Sisko, attempted to convince Starfleet that the Federation must go on the offensive if they had any hope of winning the war. His plan was to recapture Deep Space 9 with the combined forces of the Second, Fifth, and Ninth Fleets. There was some initial resistance to the plan, fearing that too many ships would be diverted away from [{Earth]]. Admiral Coburn was convinced, however, when assured that the key to winning the war was keeping Dominion reinforcements from coming through the wormhole. The plan was approved, but had to be put into action immediately. Intelligence reported that the Dominion was only three days away from deactivating the minefield. The Klingon Empire had not initially agreed to participating in the operation, fearing that the operation would leave the Empire vulnerable. Eventually, Starfleet decided that they had no choice but to deploy the task force with only the Second and Fifth fleets in order to reach Deep Space 9 before the minefield was deactivated. The task force, consisting of over 600 Federation ships departed from Starbase 375 enroute for the Bajoran system. Detecting the approach of the Federation fleet, Gul Dukat redirected a large number of Dominion ships off the front lines to intercept and destroy the enemy fleet. With only hours remaining before they destroyed the minefield, the Dominion commander, Weyoun, assured Dukat that any ships lost in this engagement would be replaced by the 2,800 Jem'Hadar ships waiting in the Gamma Quadrant. Holding the station was the top priority.

A combined force of 1,254 Jem'Hadar and Cardassian ships met the Federation fleet on its way to Deep Space 9. Captain Sisko attempted to create confusion along the Cardassian forces to find an opening in the Dominion's lines. Realizing Sisko's plan, Dukat allowed Starfleet to push its way through, only to close in by surrounding with the overwhelming forces under his control. The Federation was taking heavy losses, and defeat seemed at hand. Fortunately for the allies, a Klingon fleet decloaked and engaged the Dominion forces, turning the tide in the favor of the allies. The {USS|Defiant} was able to break through the lines to head for the wormhole. Although the Dominion was able to destroy minefield, Sisko was able to enter the wormhole and persuade the Bajoran Prophets to destroy the Dominion reinforcements. With the help from the wormhole aliens, and the fleet battle ending to the favor of the Federation-Klingon alliance, the Dominion was forced to withdraw from Deep Space 9. Operation Return was the first major defeat for the Dominion. Dukat's defeat left him captured by the Federation forces. He would be replaced by Damar.

While the allied forces led the attack on Deep Space 9, the Eleventh Fleet was redirected to defend the Benzar system. After feigning to Alpha Centauri, the Dominion sent a large fleet to Benzar. Unprepared for the enslaught, the Eleventh Fleet tried to hold out until reinforcements could arrive. Unfortunately, the Fourteenth fleet arrived to late, and the Eleventh Fleet had already been decimated. The Fourteenth Fleet lost nearly 100 ships in the battle before retreating, leaving Benzar in the hands of the Dominion.

Stalemate

After the Federation retook Deep Space 9, the war reached a lull. Dominion forces fortified Cardassian space and their held territories, and further activity along the border was rare. The Dominion offered a chance for peace with the Federation, offering to withdrawal their forces from a sizable amount of territory that had been captured during the fighting. Federation analysts determined that the Dominion was using peace offering as an opportunity to gain control of the Kabrel system, allowing them to produce ketracel-white in the Alpha Quadrant. The think tank predicted that it would be favorable to take the territory without a fight while they had a chance, even if it meant that the Dominion would be able to restore their supply lines. The Dominion would be able to regroup their forces, but the Federation and Klingon forces needed the respite more than the Dominion, and would benefit more from the pause in fighting. The analysts suggested that the Federation accept the peace proposal. However, the Federation made a counter-proposal, which the Dominion rejected. The lull ended, and fighting resumed a few weeks later.

Dominion forces launched a successful invasion of Betazed in late 2374. Striking from the Kalandra sector, the Dominion caught the Federation off guard since intelligence suggested that the Kalandra sector was too far from Dominion supply lines. Additionally, the Tenth Fleet, responsible for the defense of Betazed, was running battle exercises and was out of position. By taking Betazed, the Dominion was now in a position to invade Vulcan, Andoria, Tellar, and Alpha Centauri. Due to the massive number of casualties suffered by the Federation, and the destruction of many of their shipyards, the Federation was unable to put up a counteroffensive. Meanwhile, the Dominion shipyards were running a peak capacity, and new Jem'Hadar were being bred at an impressive rate. It would only be a matter of time before the Dominion would be able to defeat both the Federation and the Klingons.

Turning of the Tide

At this point in the conflict, the Romulan Star Empire had remained neutral, in part due to the nonaggression pact with the Dominion. However, they were allowing Dominion ships free passage through their space. Knowing that the war was lost without Romulan support, Captain Benjamin Sisko implicated the Dominion in the assassination of Romulan Senator Vreenak. The ploy worked, and the Romulans joined the war on the side of the Federation and Klingons. Within a few hours of joining the alliance, Romulan fleets attacked fifteen bases along the Cardassian-Romulan border. This resulted in opening another front and drawing forces away from the Federation and Klingon lines. During this offensive, the Romulans liberated the captured Benzar system, among others.

The Invasion of Cardassia

With the Federation Alliance now complemented by the Romulans, the allies had the resources, ships, and manpower necessary to finally go on the offensive. Initially there was resistance from the Romulans, fearing that a successful invasion of Cardassia would only result in an appalling number of casualties. Eventually, the Romulans were convinced that the only way to achieve a lasting victory against the Dominion was to destroy the shipyards and cloning facilities. After diverting ships to the Romulan front, the Dominion lines were stretched thin. The Chin'toka system was left with only five squadrons of Jem'Hadar attack ships to defend it. The system became the first target of the combined alliance invasion fleet for this reason. Without Gamma Quadrant reinforcements, the Cardassians deployed orbital weapon platforms, reducing the need for a large number of fleets to defend the system. The platforms were nearly successful in stopping the allied advance, but a weakness was discovered that allowed the Federation to disrupt the platform's power grid. The Allied forces pushed into Cardassian territory, boosting morale through the fleets.

After the success in capturing Chin'toka late in 2374, the offensive into Cardassian territory stalled. Allied casualties mounted while Dominion forces kept the allies occupied in the Chin'toka system. Dominion shipyards were pushing beyond capacity in attempt to build enough ships to retake the system. The war reached another stalemate from early to mid 2375, with Allied forces unable to advance, but Dominion ships unable to retake the system. For several months, attempts to gain territory on both sides were repelled while Alliance ships were under constant attack at Chin'toka.

Chaos Behind the Lines

One very important event that changed the shape of the war was occurring behind the front lines: a debilitating disease was attacking the Founders. It would later be claimed that Section 31 had a hand in the infection. The Founders' abilities as leaders were being compromised just as their military was taking severe punishment from the emboldened alliance.

Gradually, Damar began openly criticizing the war effort and deriding the Founders' leadership. Cardassia had taken heavy casualties during the war. Damar believed that there was not one Cardassian family that had not lost someone in this conflict. Dominion leaders began seeking a new ally, and in late-2375 they entered into negotiations with the Breen, a mysterious but powerful race. In the ensuing months, an alliance was formed and the Breen took more and more of the Cardassians' responsibility, their leadership, and even Cardassian territory. The tide had turned in favor of the Dominion, but Cardassians grew more restless by the day.

The Breen entered the war with a shocking attack on Starfleet Headquarters itself. Most of the Breen attack force was destroyed by Starfleet forces, but not before the Breen had already inflicted a great deal of damage and casualties. The Breen considered the attack a success despite the fact that so few of their ships survived the assault. That they were willing to sacrifice so many of their ships and troops in order to strike at the very heart of the Federation proved to the allies one thing; the Breen were a race of warriors.

The Breen's second operation was a counterattack against the Allied forces in control of the Chin'toka system. The Breen broke through Federation lines in two places and the allies immediately began assembling reinforcements. A Federation Alliance assault fleet arrived at Chin'toka to fend off the advancing Dominion fleet. During this battle, the Breen unleashed their energy-draining weapons that quickly immobilized and disabled the entire Allied fleet. The Federation, Klingon and Romulan ships were rendered completely defenseless against conventional weapons. The Dominion won the Second Battle of Chin'toka with ease, destroying all but one of the three hundred and twelve allied vessels, thus regaining control of the system. The Klingons by sheer luck stumbled upon a modification that made them immune to the weapon. Subsequently it was up to the Klingon fleet to hold the front lines on their own until a countermeasure could be found for Starfleet and Romulan ships. To do this, General Martok brought 1,500 starships to the border as the Allies' defense by the following day. Even with this sizable fleet, the Klingon force was outnumbered twenty-to-one by the Dominion, Breen and Cardassian forces. To compensate, Martok would have his fleet operate in small battle groups, remaining cloaked until they would engage the enemy, in an attempt to keep them off balance.

Although the war turned significantly in the Dominion's favor with the Breen's entry into the war, the Dominion's obvious favoring of the Breen finally frustrated Damar to the point that he formed an active resistance on Cardassia. A number of Cardassian officers, including Gul Rusot, who shared Damar's frustration, remained loyal to him. Joining his rebellion, they attacked the cloning facilities on Rondac III. Although the fleet was successful in destroying the facility, half of Damar's entire military force was destroyed in the battle. Despite this, the Dominion realized they could not hope to win the war against the allies until the internal rebellion was crushed. This gave the allies the time they needed to obtain a counter measure to the Breen's energy dissipator, although without a working version of the weapon the research proceeded slowly.

End of the war

Realizing Damar's rebellion would be crushed without a necessary change in strategy and outside support, the Federation dispatched Kira Nerys (with a new commission as a Starfleet commander), Elim Garak, and Odo to help train the Cardassian liberation forces in guerrilla tactics, while also providing food replicators and weapons to sustain the rebellion. With Kira's knowledge of guerrilla warfare passed on to Damar's forces, the rebellion began destroying individual ships via sabotage, and was successful in the destruction of the Tevak shipyards.

Unfortunately for the allies, Chancellor Gowron took control of the Klingon forces in an attempt to defeat the Dominion without assistance from the Federation or Romulan Empire. During his brief campaign, he ordered General Martok to engage the Dominion at Avenal Seven – a world deep inside Dominion territory. Outnumbered six-to-one, the raid on Avanal Seven was an utter failure, losing seven ships, with another five seriously damaged. It soon became clear that Gowron had come to view Martok as a political threat and by launching these raids, he hoped to have the general discredited or killed. Realizing that these useless raids could not continue, Captain Sisko ordered Lieutenant Commander Worf to "deal" with Chancellor Gowron. After killing him in battle, Worf declared Martok the new Chancellor of the Klingon Empire.

With the help of Odo, the Cardassian rebellion was able to capture a Jem'Hadar attack ship fitted with one of the Breen's energy dampening weapons from the Kelvas repair facility. With the weapon delivered to the Federation, a counter-measure was able to be produced for both Federation and Romulan ships, thus returning the tactical advantage into the Allies' favor. Shortly afterward however, the rebel Cardassian forces were completely wiped out by the Dominion after Gul Revok betrayed them, allowing all eighteen rebel bases to be found and destroyed.

After successfully destroying the rebel bases, the Dominion realized that the Federation Alliance had developed a counter measure to the Breen's weaponry. As a result, they withdrew all of their forces from Klingon, Federation and Romulan space and created a new defense perimeter within Cardassian territory. The perimeter was heavily fortified, requiring a major Allied offensive to break through and result in the loss of thousands of ships. The Dominion had hoped that the Federation would not attempt such an offensive, giving them the time they needed to rebuild a sufficient armada to destroy Allied forces. The Federation Alliance decided instead to proceed with an invasion, in spite of the heavy losses that they would suffer. A three-pronged attack into Cardassia was organized and led by Vice Admiral William Ross, Captain Benjamin Sisko, Chancellor Martok, and (presumably) Velal.

A Federation Alliance invasion fleet departed Deep Space 9 and engaged a combined Jem'Hadar, Cardassian, and Breen fleet at the Dominion's new defensive perimeter. Allied losses mounted as the battle raged on, with the Dominion managing to destroy one third of the Allied invasion force, including the Romulan flagship.

Although Damar's military rebellion had been crushed, his brief but effective campaign had left quite an impression on the Cardassian people. After a raid on a Jem'Hadar barracks on Cardassia Prime in late-2375, Damar was able to rally the support of the entire civilian population on Cardassia. During the Alliance invasion, these civilians caused a planet-wide blackout, cutting off all communication from the Dominion Headquarters to their fleets in combat. In retaliation for this, the Female Changeling ordered the destruction of Lakarian City as a deterrent to further acts of rebellion. This action had the opposite effect however – when the Cardassian fleet learned about the fate of Lakarian City, it switched sides to assist the Federation Alliance and opened fire on the Jem'Hadar and Breen ships. With the Cardassian fleet turned against them, the Dominion had no choice but order a full retreat back to Cardassia Prime, where they were surrounded by the pursuing Federation, Klingon, Romulan, and Cardassian ships.

The situation was now hopeless for the Dominion, but the Founder refused to surrender. Instead she ordered every Jem'Hadar and Breen soldier to fight to the last man. She also ordered the Jem'Hadar to begin exterminating the Cardassian population for their betrayal. Jem'Hadar troops rampaged through the streets of Cardassia Prime killing millions. Finally, members of the resistance were able to break into Dominion headquarters and capture the Founder, though she still refused to order her troops to surrender, therefore Odo beamed down to link with her. While linked, Odo cured the Founder of the virus and convinced her to order the remaining Dominion forces to stand down. She agreed to turn herself over to Federation authorities to stand trial for war crimes. In exchange, Odo would return to the Great Link and cure the rest of their people of the virus that had been crippling them.

Aftermath

The instrument of surrender, the Treaty of Bajor, was signed on Deep Space 9 only days after the Battle of Cardassia. Following the end of the war, the Dominion was forced back into the Gamma Quadrant, the Cardassian Union was in shambles, and the Klingon Empire was estimated to be set back by at least a decade. The war also prompted a change in leadership in the Klingon High Council, as Lieutenant Commander Worf killed Chancellor Gowron for squandering the Empire's resources on a political vendetta against General Martok in the final weeks of the war. Worf passed the Chancellorship onto Martok immediately after Gowron's death.

Although both the Federation and the Romulan Empire suffered a heavy death toll, Section 31 operative Luther Sloan speculated that these two powers would be the ones struggling for control of a post-war Alpha Quadrant. Even before the war's end, many in both the Federation and the Romulan Empire believed that their alliance was only a temporary war-time coalition. There was concern that the Romulans would not cede worlds they liberated from the Dominion, such as Benzar, back to the Federation. By 2379, the Neutral Zone was still in effect, and serious peace talks did not begin until late that year.

Foremost in the aftermath, however, was the state of Cardassia Prime. Eight hundred million civilians were dead, and the entire Cardassian Union was in danger of total collapse. The Alpha Quadrant had lost a major power, and the effects on galactic politics would continue to be seen for many years to come.